Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Island Time

Some say I am uptight because I like to make to-do lists and set goals for myself, even when I’m on vacation. Maybe it's true because when I am on vacation I do set goals for what I want to get accomplished. For example, when in Paris I like to visit Montmartre for the spectacular views and the Champs Elysees for high-priced window shopping. When in Germany it’s the nearest beirgarten for a Hefeweizen and maybe a castle ruin. I like to see or do at least one interesting thing each day.

So, when it came to preparing for our family vacation in the Caribbean I listened to those who had gone before me and learned all about the casual “Island Time” and “Rum o’clock” culture. Given the laid back nature of the Islands, I decided to keep my to-do list short and easy to accomplish. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Island had some goals of its own.

Here was my list:

1. Get away from snow

2. Learn to snorkel

3. Drink rum in all its manifestations

4. Avoid wearing socks

The first goal involved simply stepping off an airplane. Upon arrival we were greeted with chilled Cruzan rum and rain. Lots of rain. It rained for four days. It wasn’t the typical refreshing rain that lasts an hour in the morning and reappears again in the afternoon. This was continuous, impressive rain. We tourists scurried to purchase $20 umbrellas and resolved to ride it out while the islanders were just happy to refill their cisterns. To the locals rain water means laundry is washed and toilets are flushed. It rained so much I thought my shoes would never dry. But at least it wasn’t snow. Objective one accomplished.

On the first day of sunshine we couldn’t wait to start snorkeling. We headed to the rock-strewn beach in front of our villa, strapped on our gear, and fought the rough surf to get our first look at life sub-marine. This being my first time I was amazed by the life teaming below. Then I was quickly overwhelmed by mouthfuls of saltwater, scrapes against the rocks, cramping legs, and constricting lungs. In addition to my first snorkeling experience, I had my very first panic attack.

After a few hours of sitting in a dark, quiet room my lungs returned to 75 percent and I could reflect on the experience. I knew I needed to see the fish and coral again, but I never wanted to panic like that again. The next day we took an official outing with others on a beautiful sailboat to calm waters with no rocks and a professional snorkeling teacher. Instead of taking up the offer to join the newbies on the beach for a formal lesson I opted to try again on my own with my swim buddy who doubles as my life buddy. I figured no rocks, no waves and a life vest I couldn’t go wrong. Five minutes later they are pulling me out of the drink and pouring fresh water over my head. “Every ting OK mon”.

Watching my wife and ten year old daughter cut through the water like dolphins and listening to them recount their adventures I resolved to try it one more time. But this time I knew I better practice on the beach. My brother-in-law gave me some excellent pointers and instilled me with confidence and technique just in time for our final outing to the British Virgin Islands. I slipped on a flotation ring around my waste, strapped on the gear, and set off with my buddy. This time I was relaxed and the sea revealed its treasure to me. I was awe struck. My buddy and I held hands and explored the caves of Norman Island. I was transformed. Objective two accomplished.

Now, I should be honest and say that from the very first day on the Island I felt like I was getting fleeced. Every time I turned around it was another $20 for this and $60 for that. Everybody had their hand in my pocket. Everything is expensive. Everything except rum. Rum is as cheap as running water on the continent. What milk is to Wisconsin, rum is to the Islands.

So, we indulged at will; Painkillers, Nilla Killas, Pina Coladas, Rum Punches, Bushwhackers, rum and Cokes, rum on the rocks – just to name a few. I consumed more rum in ten days than I had in ten years. Although I am not terribly proud of it, goal three accomplished.

As for socks, there didn’t seem to be anywhere that required pants, let alone socks. Even the nicer restaurants with $100 dishes were "no shirt, no shoes, no problem mon!" So, not wearing socks was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Goal four accomplished.

So, the vacation was a success. I accomplished my goals without even thinking about it. But as I look back on the experience I see now that my goals for the Island were nothing compared to the goals the Island had for me:

1. Respect water. It can kill you, but you can’t live without it.

2. Respect money. A fool and his money are soon parted.

3. Respect the Island. The best things on the Island come from the Island

4. Respect time. "Island Time" is always right now, and right now it’s rum o’clock.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My talk with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

A dialoged I imagined today:

Pratt Mandango: I see you inducted Metallica and Jeff Beck into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

PM: Little Anthony and Run-DMC too

PM: Seriously? Little Anthony?
RRHF: It was his time.

PM: Run-DMC isn’t even Rock and Roll.
RRHF: Says you. What’s your problem anyway?

PM: No Moody Blues, no Chicago, no Kiss, and no Rush.
RRHF: They didn’t make the list.

PM: I worked that one out on my own. Kiss I can understand but no Rush? What gives?
RRHF: It’s not their time.

PM: 35 years recording, touring, selling, and influencing. Doesn’t that make it their time?
RRHF: No. Rush qualifies but didn’t make the list.

PM: Because it’s not their time.
RRHF: Right.

PM: That’s bullshit.
RRHF: Says you. Besides, years in the business only qualifies an artist, it’s not a guarantee.

PM: Rush has been around longer than Metallica.
RRHF: True, but not as long as Jeff Beck. And not as long as Lynyrd Skynyrd or Black Sabbath, both inducted in 2007.

PM: Rush is #4 in consecutive number of gold records behind only the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith and has 40 million records sold worldwide.
RRHF: Impressive. But it’s still not their time.

PM: Says who? Who decides who makes the list?
RRHF: A nominating committee comprised of a cross section of rock and roll historians and industry personnel.

PM: Where do fans come in? Do we have any say?
RRHF: No. This is not a popularity contest. The foundation recognizes those performers who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development, and perpetuation of rock and roll.

PM: You sound like a brochure. But seriously, Rush has had a serious impact on my own personal evolution, development, and perpetuation. And I’m not alone. There are millions like me.
RRHF: You continue to miss the point. Induction to the hall isn’t based on popularity, record sales, or even talent relative to others.

PM: That explains R.E.M. …. Sorry
RRHF: As I was saying, it’s not their time. It’s Jeff Beck’s time. It’s Metallica’s time. It’s –

PM: Little Anthony’s time
RRHF: Exactly

PM: So it’s really not about how great they are.
RRHF: Or how much you love them.

PM: Or how much other performers in the hall really suck. Like R.E.M.
RRHF: Um, right, I guess.

PM: So what can I do to persuade the Foundation to add Rush to the list?
RRHF: Write us a letter.

PM: I did.
RRHF: Then you’ve done your part. And maybe some time down the road it will be Rush’s time.

PM: Really?
RRHF: Maybe. Keep this in mind, Buddy Guy, the O’Jays, and Percy Sledge didn’t get inducted until 2005. So be patient.

PM: Um, OK….. It’s still bullshit though.
RRHF: Says you.

Letter written to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on August 12, 2009: Dear RRHH. 35 years of recording, hundreds of musicians influenced, thousands of live performances, millions of records sold. Please, please, please, in the name of Elvis and all that is holy, please induct Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Trip to Amman Jordan - Day 2

I arrive in Amman about mid-day. I was fortunate enough to fly business class and slept most of the way. I wake up in time for “snack” completely gas free. My flying neighbor seems content so I must not have offended him too much. However, being from New York City it’s likely to take more to offend him. We exchange pleasantries and de-plane.

I meet up with my colleagues who lead the way through immigration, baggage claim, and customs. Having been there before they know the ropes and I follow along dutifully. The customs line at the airport is similar to any I have seen in the US. Bored government employees behind elevated desks robotically process travelers with no emotion or humor.

What is different is the visa process. You must officially have permission to enter the Kingdom of Jordan. This is granted by way of a visa. Unlike my trip to Russia a few years ago where you must follow an elaborate process to gain permission and a visa, in Jordan you simply stand in line at the visa desk, pay 10 Jordanian Dinars (JDs), get your password stamped with a special mark, then move to the immigration line.

One of my colleagues passes through quickly, timing is everything. Another colleague and I end up in a one of two lines converging on the same desk. “Paperwork Guy” takes your passport with the visa stamp, writes an entry in a ledger, then stacks it up on the edge of the desk that belongs to “Stamp Guy”. The “Stamp Guy” reviews the visa and some information on a computer screen, then, if he is satisfies with what he sees, stamps the passport again.

It was clear by the backup caused by the converging lines that we were going to be awhile. “Stamp Guy” was too slow to keep up. After a few minutes, “Boss Man” comes up behind “Stamp Guy”, surveys the situation, and then begins to berate him for getting behind. After the two minute berating I start to feel sorry for “Stamp Guy”. But, “Boss Man” then picks up a few passports, attempts to say my name and my colleague’s name, and directs us to Window 10. After a few tries we finally understand and make our way out of line.

Not having been to the Middle East before, and having been pulled out of line by name, I become mildly concerned. We make our way to Window 10, which has a sign above it indicating residents only. We exchange confused looks and step up to yet another bored government employee, “Second Stamp Guy”. We hand out passports to “Second Stamp Guy” who spends a little over a nanosecond looking at the documents, stamps our passports and gestures to the exit.

We finally get to baggage claim and twenty minutes later we have our possessions. I expect that customs will be yet another set of lengthy lines, but after we pass by a vaguely official-looking person we find ourselves outside among limos, taxis, and busses. One of my colleagues had arranged for a private driver to take us to Amman. “Driver Guy” is waiting for us when we step outside.

“Driver Guy” is an impeccably dressed man in his fifties with a barrel chest and silver hair. He welcomes us with a very wide smile and beefy handshakes. “Good to see you my friends!” he announces. We pile into the large black sedan and “Driver Guy” zooms off.

Because it is in the middle of the day I get a clear view of the surroundings on the way to the city. For reasons I can only attribute to movies and TV, I expect to see sand, lots and lots of sand, and maybe a camel or two. Amman is in the desert you know. Instead I see rolling hills, bluffs, farm land and green grass. When I mention this, “Driver Guy” tells me about all the rain they have received lately. My colleagues are surprised by the green too because they tell me the last few times they were here it was brown. Still, no sand and no camels.

When we get to Amman I begin to recognize things that my imagination had conjured up prior to my trip. I see lots of white stone buildings and houses. They are exactly as I have seen on TV. The streets are windy, the traffic brisk, and the respect for traffic lanes, pedestrians, and turn signals non existent. As in other metropolitan cities around the world the car horn is used as a communication device between drivers – “Go ahead”, “Watch it”, “You’re an idiot!” etc etc.

We pull up to the driveway of the Marriott Hotel and stop at the iron gates. Security guards speak rapidly to “Driver Guy” in Arabic, he opens the trunk for inspection and a second security guard inspects under the car with a mirror attached to a long pole. I look over to the side and notice a soldier pacing nearby armed with a machine gun. There are two ways to take this, security is good, and the need for this level security is bad. I take it both ways. The whole process takes five seconds and we are allowed to enter. I realized then that it was simply routine. After a couple of days, and a few more inspections, I don’t even notice the machine gun any more.

The hotel is gorgeous. But before we can enter we must pass through another security check point. No machine guns, but a metal detector and x-ray machine makes me think of airport security. Again, security is good, right? It turns out even if you don’t have any metal in your pockets you set off the alarm. “Wand Guy” waves a hand-held metal detector up and down your body, carefully pats you down, smiles with kind eyes, and then let’s you pass. After a few of these searches I learn this is also just routine. I eventually end up taking some level of comfort in the ritual.

Since this is an American hotel, everything is in English, including the language of the hotel staff. They are impeccably dressed and intense on helping you feel comfortable. I say “intense”, and not “intent”. “Intent” is what you get at a Marriott in the U.S.. “Intense is what you get in the Middle East. It’s as if they work on commission, somehow able to monitor your level of satisfaction and get paid accordingly.

As an American property they also have an American-sounding sports bar called Champions. It has, as you might expect, big screen TVs, a bar, a bunch of tables, plenty of beer and booze, and of course, very intense waiters. The only thing different than an American sports bar is what’s on TV, English Premier League soccer. So, perhaps it’s more like an English sports bar. But, I have never been to England so I can’t really compare.

This first night in Amman though we forego Champions in favor of local color. My colleagues recommend a restaurant they have been to before that has great food and is in a hip part of Amman. Yes, Amman can be very hip indeed, but more on that later.

We hail a taxi to take us to a Chinese/Indian fusion restaurant. “Cab Driver” doesn’t understand what we are trying to tell him, but he does understand “Fitness Center” which is a health club close to the restaurant. He recognizes this because that’s the name of the club. Once at the fitness Center we guide “Cab Driver” to the restaurant. The meter in the cab reads 840. We pay him 10 JDs. He is very, very happy. We later learn why he was so happy. More on lessons on currency in another post.

The restaurant is clean, comfortable, and new. One side of the menu has typical Chinese options, Kung Pao Chicken, fried dumplings, etc. The reverse side has India options like Chicken Curry. The food was great and the service was friendly, and, of course, intense. I feel a bit disappointed in myself for not going native this first time out, but I figure I will be here for a week so there is plenty of opportunity for local cuisine.

After dinner we have a night cap at Champions – a round of Amstels and head off to bed. I check in with family to let them know I survived the trip, do about an hour’s worth of work to prepare for the big first day, pop an Ambien and hit the rack. From my bed I call the front desk to order a wake up call. “Front Desk Guy” greets me by name and an intense “Good Morning! How can I help you?”

So far I have observed the following:

1. Security is a priority
2. Customer service is paramount
3. Chicken Curry is my favorite Indian dish
4. People drive like idiots
5. Government employees are bored and slow.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Trip to Amman Jordan - Day 1

12:30 p.m. – Dane County Regional Airport (MSN). Kiss wife and daughter good-bye

12:45 p.m. – In line at security behind “Hippy Man”. He must be 50 years old, 6’3”, hair down to his belt which is holding up impossibly tight blue jeans. He mumbles something from deep down his esophagus. I can’t see his lips underneath his thick, graying tar-stained mustache. I experience a waft of his Marlboro cologne and step back to give him a wide berth. He removes his sandals exposing severely gnarled digits and thick cracked toe nails. I keep myself from throwing up a little in my mouth and imagine him sitting on a park bench with snot running down his nose. (You know who I am talking about.)

1:10 p.m. – Find my seat on the aircraft and begin to read.

1:20 p.m. – Joined by Netherlands Girl” on her way to Amsterdam. Before she sits down though she attempts to stow a bag in the overhead compartment. This involves asking “Sunglasses Guy” if she can move his laptop. Without removing his earbuds, or his sunglasses, he refuses her request. Rolling her eyes she stows her bag somewhere further down the plane. When she returns we share a “WTF” look and together roll our eyes at “Sunglasses Guy”. Moments later, when the flight attendant pulls out his laptop to make room for a larger bag, she asks him rather rhetorically if she can relocate his laptop to a more efficient location. Having heard the official announcement that passengers must follow all crew member instructions, he grudgingly complies. “Netherlands Girl” and I exchange a look that can only be translated as “Take that, bastard!” and exchange a mental high-five.

3:45 p.m. – Arrive in Detroit International Airport (DTW).

4:00 p.m. – Concourse A at DTW – notice the flight to JFK is at gate “Hold”. WTF?

4:05 p.m. – Ask random gate agent what “Hold” means and am informed it means they don’t know which gate it is coming into and that I should wait till it changes to an actual gate number,

4:10 p.m. – Strolling down the concourse toward the center planning to check again. It still reads “Hold” until I realize I am looking at Arrivals. Damn! Rookie mistake! Checked the departures and find my gate (B16), Now Boarding.

4:11 p.m. – Began running to B Concourse.

4:15 p.m. – Dodging in and out of shuffeling travelers and meeting up with other travels also “on the run”.

4:20 p.m. – Find my seat, which is next to “Forearm Guy”, one of my fellow runners.
4:30 p.m. – Observe that “Forearm Guy” seems to know everyone on the aircraft. When I question him about it he happily explains, in detail, his relationship to each traveler around him. Learned that the girl sitting next to us was also a plane runner. Noted the woman behind us is a colleague of his, etc.

4:40 p.m. – Wheels up.

4:45 p.m. – After talking to “Forearm Guy” for a few minutes I notices that he has a massive, Popeye-ish right forearm, (hence the nickname). I note that his left forearm is of regular size and shape. When I question him about his over-sized appendage he performs a bit of a muscle-man, wrist curling pose, and then happily begins to tell me the story. Turns out he is an independent videographer. I make the absurdly obvious observation that he must be right handed. He confirms the suspicion and then proceeds to pull out his video camera from his carry-on bag. “Forearm Guy” and I enjoy a couple of beers together talking about family, flying, and forearms.

6:00 p.m. – Arrive at JFK.

6:10 p.m. – Navigate around the airport, looking at monitors for my flight. I am four hours early so the flight hasn’t been listed yet. I ask another random gate agent and she tells me B14.

6:20 p.m. – Stop by a bookstore and purchase The Definitive Guide to Stuff White People Like – The Unique Taste of Millions, by Christian Lander.

6:30 p.m. – Find my gate and begin reading my new book.

6:35 p.m. – Call Mom and Dad to check in.

6:45 p.m. – While still on the phone with parents, notice white smoke billowing up from the opposite side of the gate area. Notice people are milling about, covering their eyes and mouths, and coughing.

6:47 p.m. – Describing the scene to my dad as I make my way out of the gate area to see what was going on. Noted that a computer-type device, resembling an oddly shaped laptop, had smoke flowing out of its top. It looked like a cross between a laptop computer and a toaster set too high. I hear people discussing that it was a child’s toy. That would explain why it was sitting on the floor.

6:50 p.m. – The smoking machine catches on fire.

6:52 p.m. – “Maintenance Guy” takes off his neon green vest and proceeds to beat the machine over and over until the flames die out. I see pilots running around trying to find an extinguisher. “Maintenance Guy” hangs in there, inhaling the fumes, and making sure no one comes near.

6:53 p.m. – On the advice of my dad I beat it out of there. Besides, the stench from the electrical fire was getting worse.

7:00 p.m. – I am having a beer at Chili’s and describing the incident to my brother in L.A.

7:20 p.m. – I eat the boneless chicken wings and regret it at the same time.

7:45 p.m. – Meet up with colleagues and have another beer.

9:00 p.m. – In my seat, now ready to fly to Amman. (Remember, this is a story about my trip to Amman.)

9:05 p.m. Hand my suit coat to flight attendant

10:00 p.m. – Push back and begin to taxi.

10:05 p.m. – Where’s my passport?

10:10 p.m. – Can’t find it seat back in front of me.

10:11 p.m. - Can’t find it in my suit coat.

10:12 p.m. – With tremendous relief, find the passport in my briefcase.

10:20 p.m. – Wheels up.

12:30 a.m. – Finish dinner and pop an Ambien

12:45 a.m. – Sleep

1:00 a.m. – Wake up to baby screaming. Silently apologize to guy sitting next to me for having the chicken wings. No doubt in his head he is calling me “Gas Man”.

1:05 a.m. – Recall “Hippy Man”. He wouldn’t have minded “Gas Man”.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hook-Up Appreciation Week

You’ve heard the expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. I am a walking, talking example of this truth. My life and times have been fabulous due to what are commonly referred to as “Hook-Ups”. This is not to be confused with the kinds of hook-ups made famous by Charlie Sheen, Hugh Grant, and “Client #9”. Rather, these are people who hook you up with someone or something that greatly improve the quality of your life.

Recently I was both hooked-up and a hooker-upper for others. It was such a great experience that I would like to pay tribute to just a few of the numerous hook-ups in my life.

1. Mom and Dad who hooked me up with life, liberty, and the pursuit of learning.
2. Julie R. who hired me at the place where I met my wife.
3. My wife for hooking me up with a splendid life and beautiful family.
4. Gary F who hooked me up with free lessons on being cool.
5. Jim F. who hooked me up with single malt Scotch and the Kepler Launch.
6. Grace F. who hooked me up with my entire social network.
7. Steve J. for being in the military and hooking me up with Russia and Germany.
8. Maureen J. who hooked me up with the members of Rush.
9. Heather H. for hooking me up with Japan.
10. Dave F. for hooking me up with a good job.
11. Matt R. for hooking me with an even better job.
12. Anthony G. for hooking me up with an even more better job.
13. Byron G. for hooking me up with a new way of thinking.
14. Chad C. for hooking me up with San Francisco.
15. Aaron D. for hooking me up with the USS Constellation.
16. Carey W. for hooking me up Beth, Joern, Katarina, and Jens.
17. Brian O. for hooking me up with even more international travel
18. Steve S. for hooking me up with lots of golf.
19. Beth Y. for hooking me up with bungee jumping, Graceland, and Central BBQ.
20. Dave T. for hooking me up with a prime mortgage that I could afford and making my pay down debt first.

These are only a few and there have been many more. I’m sure if you think about it you will discover that many of the truly amazing things that have happened to you have happened because of a well timed, well placed, hook-up. You’ve heard the phrase “Count your blessings.” I suggest you “Count your hook-ups”. And, if you haven’t already done so, return the favor with a hook-up of your own. Or, at least tell them that it is Hook-Up Appreciation Week and you were thinking of them.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I accepted an invitation on Facebook to post 25 random facts about me for the entertainment of others. I was also to distribute this list to 25 friends and then ask them to do the same. It's sort of like a getting-to-know-you chain letter. I post the list here for your entertainment:
  1. I am sometimes inspired by greatness. My friend Beth's recent posting of 25 random things about her was great. Random thing # 23 said that if she won the lottery she would buy all of her friends lake houses in Madison, WI.
  2. I also have some of the greatest friends in the world. They inspire me to be a better person.
  3. I think I am a better person now than I was twenty years ago. I used to think I knew everything. I had a script that told me the way people are and the way the world works. I know now that I was wrong about most of it and have thrown that script away.
  4. I know now that most people are decent and good. I know now that you don’t have to pass a litmus test.
  5. I know now that I like fish and seafood. I like tomatoes and broccoli and cottage cheese. I wish I would have discovered shell fish sooner.
  6. I know now that the things I like to do the most are the things I am the worst at, require the most discipline, and are the hardest for me to start. I like to exercise, play my guitar, and write.
  7. I know now the more I need something the less I love it. This must be why I don’t smoke anymore.
  8. I know now what it feels like to ache for someone. Every time I drop my daughter off for school by heart breaks a little.
  9. I know now what it means to truly love someone. Every time my wife smiles at me my heart mends a little.
  10. I know now that life is too short for black coffee.
  11. I have always known that I was shorter than most men and always wanted to be taller. I know now that I still want to be taller but only to look better in a suit.
  12. I have always known I liked cats better than dogs, even though I have both. I know now that cats love on their own terms and dogs love because they are programmed to. All love is good but I prefer it freely given.
  13. I have always loved music but I know now that it is the blood that runs through my veins. You should hear the sound track of my life. It rocks!
  14. I know that I have always loved my brother, even when we didn’t get along. I loved him because he was my brother. I know now that I love him because he is my friend.
  15. I used to think that everything was urgent, especially at work. But having watched my dog lose her mind when the door bell rings, I know now nothing is more urgent than that.
  16. I know I talk too much, criticize too often, judge too harshly, offer opinions when they are not asked for, and give advice when it isn’t solicited. But, I know acceptance is the first step to recovery.
  17. I know that I’m not a “tough guy”. But, I know that when I watch a Clint Eastwood movie I walk a little taller for a few days.
  18. I know I have always loved science fiction, particularly Star Trek. I know now that nothing is as frak’n good as Battlestar Galactica.
  19. I know that if I had to choose between college or high school to do over again I would choose high school.
  20. I know through personal experience that the French in Paris are extremely hospitable and downright friendly.
  21. I know that I have never met a Canadian I haven’t liked. Speaking of Canadians, I know I still love Rush more than ever.
  22. I know that I have always loved reading. I know now that Esquire Magazine is my bible.
  23. I used to complain about slow moving traffic. But, I know now having been to Moscow that I have nothing to complain about. Not ever.
  24. I know that Wisconsin will always be home, but when I walk outside and my nostrils stick together I know it is time to consider relocating.
  25. I know that I will never leave Wisconsin, especially if my friend Beth buys me a house on the lake.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008 is Over and I am Exhausted!

I’ve been thinking about 2008 ever since the clock struck midnight last Thursday. And, like many people I know, I am glad to have it in the rear view mirror. I was reading Arianna Huffington’s recent farewell to 2008 and was reminded of just how long and tiring this year has been. Consider the following:

There are Red States and Blue States, and states that make terror
There’s King George the Second and his Reign of Error
We have the three networks, CNN and FOX
A plummeting Dow and stocks on the rocks

There’s Cuomo and Kennedy, Blagojevich and Burris
Franken and Coleman and Jeremiah the Furious
Charlie Gibbson and Katie Couric, – reporters the same
Ask straight forward questions and get answers inane

There’s Chicago and Wasilla, Arizona and Alaska
“Drill baby drill”, “Yes we can”, and “You betcha!”
There’s Change We Can Believe In and Bridges to Nowhere
Debates and Town Halls and that pesky Bill Ayers

There are houses for John and pantsuits for Hillary
Sarah’s big wardrobe and O.J.’s tomfoolery
Paulson and Bernanke tell us things aren’t so rosy
While tough times abounded for Reid and Pelosi

In a debate McCain called Obama “THAT One”
Other detractors called him “THE One”
But for those who were rooting for the OTHER One
At least the Supreme Court said you can carry your gun

There’s Bristol and Willow, Trip Track and Trigg
Russia and Putin and his reared up MIG
Suspended campaigns and pit bull mothers
Lipstick on pigs and Lehman Brothers

There are foreclosures and frauds and assets quite toxic
Robocalls and commercials make promises quixotic
Bail outs and buy outs and high oil prices
While men in stuffed shirts make speeches hypnotic

Although there have certainly been worse years than this
I can’t say that this year has brought lots of bliss
But even though last year indeed was a bummer
At least I take comfort that I’m not Joe the Plumber.